BAYA Book Review

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin

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Capin, Hannah. Foul is Fair. Wednesday Books, 2020. 326p. ISBN: 9781250239549. $18.99. HS, OT ****

The book cover of Foul is Fair.
Foul is Fair,

The golden boys of the St. Andrews Prep lacrosse team have it all. But when they try to have it their way with Jade on the night of her 16th birthday, they get more than they bargained for. Jade, Jenny, Mads and Summer are not just sparkling best friends, they wield a power that once infused with vengeance is unstoppable, and their goal is to upend the entire power structure at St. Andrews Prep. All they need is a way in, and that’s where practically perfect Mack, an ambitious teammate comes in. Mack will be the last man standing after Jade has done away with all the other boys one by one because Jade is going to take the brutality of the attack against her and use it to fuel a violent revenge streak unlike any St. Andrews has seen before. If this all seems Shakespearean in scale that’s because it is! 

This is an amazingly juicy retelling of MacBeth set in a stereotypical prep school where the witches are mean girls and Lacrosse players are royalty. The resulting book is part Pretty Little Liars and part literary magic. It has the out-sized scope and drama of a Shakespearean play and if it weren’t so clearly a Shakespearean retelling it would be almost too dark and violent to be accepted. Since it is Shakespeare, holding back on any of the gore or drama would do a disservice to the original story. This contemporary retelling has kept the characters, the place names, and the plot points, but updated to contemporary times. It has also incorporated diverse characters with both trans and gay characters among Jade’s best friends and set it all in a #metoo story with the bloody revenge motivated by a gang rape at a party. Between the sexual violence, drinking, pot smoking, off-page consensual sex and murders, it is not for timid readers. Yet try handing this to pop-culture loving teens who can’t believe they *have* to read Shakespeare and see if they come away convinced that this kind of high stakes, high drama plotting might be worth the work. I know it makes me want to read more Shakespeare!”

–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library – Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch

Tags: Coming of age, Realistic, #metoo

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